Love is in the air

Published: Feb 13, 2017 7:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Megan Burmester, smithmp@auburn.edu, 334.844.2220

Brian and Susan Hamilton       Dave and Olivia Owen       Bill and Ashley Henderson        


brian and susan
Brian and Susan Hamilton have three children: Eli, 5; Ava, 3; and Mae 15 months.

Family and work go hand in hand

Marriage is all about sharing one’s life with another, but Brian and Susan Hamilton take it to a whole new level. Not only do they live together, with their three kids, but they also work together and even carpool every day to the same building, on the same floor.

“We enjoy being together, especially when we carpool because it gives us a chance to actually talk without the kids interrupting us,” Susan said.

Having that much together time is something Brian and Susan wouldn’t change for anything. After all, had it not been for a matchmaking friend, they may never have met.

Brian, ’07 civil engineering, graduated from Clay-Chalkville High School and had joined the Air National Guard, spending a year in basic training and taking courses at a local community college. He decided to attend Auburn after visiting his cousin there, but decided to major in business since engineering seemed like a big time commitment, and he was still enlisted in the National Guard and taking courses.

Susan, ’06 civil engineering, wavered between going into architecture or engineering while growing up in Fayetteville, Tennessee. After visiting a half dozen schools her senior year, she decided to attend Auburn after learning about the engineering program and experiencing what the university had to offer.

 “I tell people that I experienced love at first sight twice in Auburn; the first time I drove into downtown Auburn and saw the campus and town, and the second was meeting Brian,” Susan said.

While having a girls’ night out, Susan met Brian through her sorority sister, but they never exchanged numbers that night. Instead the next day, Susan’s sorority sister shared that she had given Brian her number, and he followed up by calling to ask Susan to dinner.

As Brian and Susan dated, she discovered Brian’s intuitive ability to understand how things work, and she could not ignore he had the mind of an engineer.

“I just knew that engineering was where he belonged,” Susan said.

After convincing Brian to change his major to civil engineering, she tutored him through theoretical aspects of the civil coursework since she was further along in the program.

“Meanwhile, he was able to help me understand some of the practical applications of the work in a different way,” Susan said.

After becoming engaged at Kiesel Park, with both of their dogs as witnesses, they were married in August 2007, a week after Brian had graduated from Auburn Engineering. They now live in Frankewing, Tennessee., where they just finished building their forever home. They are parents to three kids: Eli, 5; Ava, 3; and Mae 15 months.

“Our lives are crazy, hectic and filled with love. We couldn’t ask for more,” Susan said.

While becoming husband and wife, and mother and father, Susan and Brian also have the title of co-workers as civilians for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Brian handles civil engineering work and range planning, while Susan supports the explosives safety mission.

Once people discover they are both engineers and work together, a common question they get asked is “What’s that like at home?” Over the years, both Brian and Susan have developed the perfect response.

“At our home no one is ever wrong!”

dave and olivia
Dave and Olivia Owen have two children: April and Kenneth.

From classmates to soul mates

Dave and Olivia Owen both knew engineering was the career path for them early on in life. It was just a matter of choosing Auburn, and ultimately, choosing each other.

Dave, ’77 electrical engineering, was raised in Titusville, Florida, and engineering was in his blood from an early age. His father was an engineer and he had grown up around people who worked in the U.S. Space Program, so when it came time to select a college, it was a no-brainer to attend one with an excellent engineering reputation. After cutting his choices to three, he made his final selection using technical and scientific factors.

“The key factors for choosing Auburn were it was a small town, a chance to break away from all of my high school classmates going to the same school in our state, and there was a decent girl to boy ratio,” Dave said.

Olivia, ’77 civil engineering, saw the world through orange and blue lenses right from the start, as she was raised in an Auburn family in Troy. Her father and brother had both majored in mathematics at Auburn, and she always took an interest in the subject herself. They each suggested she utilize her natural math abilities and pursue a degree in engineering. After learning about the different departments, she selected civil.

Before classes began their freshman year, both of their dormitories sponsored a group date to encourage students to get to know one another. Since many more men attended the event than women Dave gave up meeting anyone. Olivia, however, had other plans in mind.

“Once I spotted Dave in the crowd, I told my roommate to ‘leave that one alone because he is mine,” she said.

As they began dating, Dave and Olivia became part of a study group to help them get through the rigorous engineering curriculum. Olivia was the only woman in the four-person study group, but all four soon became each other’s support group.

“I wouldn’t have survived and developed the study habits I needed for engineering without Dave, Chris and Dennis,” Olivia said.

While all four worked closely together, Olivia followed up on her earlier proclamation to her roommate by spending extra time with Dave.

They went on their first date to Krystal, located then on Magnolia Avenue. Following their casual first date, they went to a concert at the Coliseum by the band America, and their bond only grew from there.

They became engaged, in Dave’s dorm room, on the anniversary of the date they had met. Olivia gives Dave extra points because even though he was sick with a fever, it was important he proposed to Olivia on their actual anniversary.

Since Olivia had been part of a male-dominated study group, she was asked the same question a lot.

“When I told everyone I was engaged, a lot of people would ask if it was to Dave, Chris or Dennis,” Olivia said.

They were married in June 1976, the summer before their senior year at Auburn, had two children, April and Kenneth, and currently live in Austin, Texas.

Dave most recently was a consulting engineer in the commercial, health care and industrial building industry before he retired in 2011. Olivia also retired in 2011 as the vice president for safety, security, health and the environment for ExxonMobil Corp. She is also a founding member of the executive board of directors and serves as co-chair for the College of Engineering’s 100+ Women Strong program, an organization that encourages the advancement of female engineering students.

And while they may both be retired now, they will be forever linked to engineering, as they are the first married couple to be consecutively numbered registered professional engineers in Texas.

bill and ashley
Bill and Ashley Henderson have two children: Kelsey and Reed.

Keeping it in the engineering family

Bill and Ashley Henderson were both influenced by Auburn engineers early on in life. From the time they were born, both understood the value of an engineering degree and that passion is what brought them together.

Bill, '90 civil engineering, grew up in Okeechobee, Florida, and ultimately decided to attend Auburn Engineering because of the father of a childhood friend who was a graduate. Ashley, '90 civil engineering, a Troy native, came from a line of Auburn Engineering graduates, including two brothers. Both felt engineering fit their interests and talent, and would lead to a fruitful career. Little did they know, that bond is what would get them through difficult classes, and would one day, be something they would pass down to their own children.

On Ashley’s first day at Auburn, she met Bill through a couple of engineering classes they had together. Ironically enough, both Bill and Ashley each later on commented to their roommates that they had met an “interesting person.” The duo continued ending up in each other’s classes over the next two quarters, but it wasn’t until a statistics study group, that things started adding up.

“Our study group would always meet at Bill’s apartment,” Ashley said. “I would always come over early to eat dinner and I would stay after the group had left to talk.”

That talking led to their first real date, which may rank as the cheapest, yet most Auburn-filled outing.

“We were both broke college students, so we went to the War Eagle Supper Club for free pizza and $1 beer, and then we went to see the free movie they were showing on campus,” Ashley said.

After many more economical dates, Bill decided to ask Ashley’s father for permission to marry her before their senior fall quarter. Both Bill and Ashley were moving back to Auburn that quarter, but Bill had to make sure that Ashley traveled back to Auburn before he did, so he could go to her parents’ house and ask the big question to Ashley’s father.

“I was wondering why Bill was so late meeting me, and of course that was before cellphones had come along!” Ashley said.

Once Ashley’s dad granted permission, Bill took Ashley to another iconic Auburn spot to propose: the Donald E. Davis Arboretum. There she received the biggest birthday surprise of her life — an engagement ring.

News of their proposal traveled fast around campus. So fast, that Bill and Ashley didn’t even have the chance to tell one of their closest engineering advisors, Rod Jenkins.

“We were so excited to tell our advisor, Dr. Rod Jenkins, that we were engaged, and he just looked at us and said, ‘I already know. Everyone is talking about it,” Ashley said.

Bill and Ashley got married in Troy, and now live and work in Montgomery. Bill is the assistant general manager for the Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board, where he has worked since graduating from Auburn Engineering. Ashley works as a consultant for Constantine Engineering, specializing in water and wastewater treatment design and construction.

They have two children: Kelsey and Reed. Kelsey, a senior in chemical engineering, is following in her parents’ footsteps as she got engaged to Lane Cook, senior in mechanical engineering. They will be married on May 27.